The names of Bob Kirby and Bev Morgan can be found above and below every ocean on the planet. Their names replaced that of England’s Siebe Gorman as the world standard in surface supplied diving equipment. Although the world uses their equipment, and each man is considered a true living legend, only a handful of divers have ever met either Bob Kirby or Bev Morgan. That situation is not likely to change as each man has become more reserved and private as the years have passed. There is now however, a chance to meet Bob Kirby almost face-to-face. In his autobiography, Hard Hat Divers Wear Dresses, Kirby shoots his story straight from the hip, and with no sentimental prisoners taken. Kirby tells it like he sees it.
Starting out in the early 1950’s with his US Navy diving career and moving on to abalone diving, Kirby wheels out a cast of misfits who find a base in Southern California and eke a living off the sea bed. Kirby eventually migrates to work as a diver in Santa Barbara and describes the divers, companies and jobs of that period. Here there are adventures with white sharks, old and dangerous equipment and the young off-shore oil industry. Kirby joins Associated Divers and, with assistance from others, develops and builds his famous helium recirculator helmet. He also meets Bev Morgan, who in addition to his diving skills, has a background in fiberglass molding from his involvement in surfing. The two divers combine their skills and the Kirby Morgan company is born.
Self published by Kirby, with warts and all, and limited to only 1,000 copies,
Hard Hat Divers Wear Dresses will appeal to anyone who has a passion for diving, be it commercial, recreational, technical or military. As the story of one of diving’s few living legends, it will stand as a personal record of one mans unique journey through an industry at its prime. English 262 pp.